Comelec has money for Camarines Sur plebisciteBy Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has allowed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to use a portion of its P4.733-billion savings for 2011 to fund the holding of a plebiscite in Camarines Sur on the proposed creation of the province of Nueva Camarines (NuevaCam).
In a letter to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes dated April 12, 2012, Abad said the poll body may also use its savings for the reregistration of voters in ARMM and the recall elections in Samar and Danao provinces instead of using its savings for 2013.
Abad stressed the need to push through with the CamSur plebiscite, the reregistration of ARMM voters and the holding of the recall elections, saying they are “crucial in our overall pursuit of reforms and good governance.”
“As the budget preparation phase has begun for Financial Year (FY) 2013, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is steadfast in ensuring that all units of government are provided ample support to enable them to deliver their mandates,” he said.
He said the DBM would provide the Comelec with the necessary administrative and other support requirements for the current savings.
“Should the Comelec need technical assistance in designing the FY 2013 budget to make it to your operational requirements, the DBM units concerned are ready to extend support,” Abad added.
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee, has been copy-furnished Abad’s letter to the Comelec chair. Marcos’ committee is hearing House Bill No. 4820 which seeks to carve out NuevaCam from the 4th and 5th Districts of Camarines Sur. The House of Representatives passed HB 4820 with a 229-1 vote.
During the last hearing of the committee, a Comelec lawyer said they had no budget for the holding of a plebiscite to the delight of oppositors led by Camarines Sur Governor LRay Villafuerte, son of one of the bill’s proponents, Camarines Sur Representative Luis Villafuerte Sr. Another Camarines Sur representative, Arnulfo Fuentebella, was the bill’s principal sponsor.
Fuentebella said in his earlier talks with officials of the Comelec and the DBM that there was an understanding that a portion of the Comelec’s 2011 savings may be used to bankroll the CamSur plebiscite which is a constitutional requirement.